As you know I've hit that point in my studies where it's time to think  about what's next. I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about a careers fair in Manchester that I attended and while it was great to talk to all the different companies and here about the many opportunities that are out there for me it also left me with a lot of questions, reading and stuff to sort out.

Since then I have done quite a lot of thinking about which direction I want to ahead and have even drafted up a CV - organised I know right? However, there are still a few questions and things I wanted to check out first. That's why today I headed down to Birmingham and the NEC to check out the Graduate recruitment Exhibition.

While there was only one or two companies here that I really wanted to talk to the extra stuff was what I was really looking forward to investigating. So the exhibition, which was ran by, also had a series of employer led talks throughout the day where you could get a greater insight into what their graduate schemes are all about. However, it was the CV clinic which was where I wanted to head first. Not living in Nottingham near to my Uni and it's fantastic careers service makes getting advice more difficult so I was keen to get my CV checked out by someone in the know. The clinic was being run by the Write Stuff, a company who specialise in CVs and everything to do with them. Unfortunately, today their services were not free but for a small charge of £10 you could have a 1-2-1 chat with one of their team. Well what's a tenner in the grand scheme of things, especially if it helps you get that dream job right?

So I forked out the money and my god am i pleased that I did. Jason, the guy who was lovely enough to chat to me, pointed out some obvious stuff that would help it stand out better but he also gave me some idea that I hadn't thought about or thought didn't belong in their. I mean I just thought that the bit about your interests was just a section you put in as a filler but apparently it could actually get you the job.

He told me a story about a guy who put that he was a big fan or a particular musician (I can't remember who he said) and when he got to interview that's all the interviewer wanted to talk about as they were also a fan. So who knew eh?

Seriously though, gave me some really good ideas and lots to think about ad I would thoroughly recommend using a service like this especially is it has been a while since you were job hunting or you you can't seem to land an interviewer. After all if an employer is only going to look at your CV for 6 seconds on average a little bit of help could make you the one they notice!

The 2nd area of the exhibition that I really wanted to experience was the mock assessment centre. Now those of you a similar age to me will no doubt be very familiar with these. They have fast become a favourite of companies during recruitment as they help them decide if a candidate is a good fit for the company and it also helps alleviate bias as they are generally conducted by a 3rd party.

For those not in the know, they basically consist of a day or half day where candidates competencies and skills are assessed through a range of activities including competency based interviews, group activities and role play.

Now I have never been to one so I thought I would take the opportunity to see what they are all about. The sessions were run by Chris Morrall from Talent Transitions and Suzie Duncombe from Inspiring Talented Minds and while the short 1 hour session only allowed for a quick group based activities the feedback and insight from both Chris and Suzie was invaluable. While trying not to sound too big headed I found the task quite enjoyable and found myself taking the lead within the group throughout the activity, I even got some quite positive feedback which made me feel like I would be able to put myself over quite well in a real assessment.

Chris and Suzie put one a great session and gave us lots of hints and tips about what to expect and how to prepare. The ones that mainly stuck out were to call the assessment centre to see which competencies they will be assessing you on so you can prepare better. I also like the idea about taking your own whiteboard markers and highlighters with you in the colours that you prefer, something I don't think I would have thought about myself so thanks for that!

In between these sessions I had a wonder round the different companies and chatted to a few that I probably  didn't intend to yet still got some great advice. All in all I had a very informative day and while it would have been nice to have had greater mix of companies there the CV clinic and mock assessment centre were worth the almost 2 hour train ride in themselves. I guess ow I just need to redraft my CV (and write a cover letter -eeek) and actually get applying for some jobs but as Chris so aptly said as an applicant it's not about the quantity of applications but the quality so I will pick and choose... wisely.


originally posted on my blog

Published by Rachel Boardman